adjective me·tic·u·lous \ mə-ˈti-kyə-ləs \
|Updated on: 7 Aug 2018

Definition of meticulous

: marked by extreme or excessive care in the consideration or treatment of details
  • a meticulous researcher


play \-ˌti-kyə-ˈlä-sə-tē\ noun


play \-ˈti-kyə-ləs-lē\ adverb


play \-nəs\ noun

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Examples of meticulous in a Sentence

  1. Always meticulous about his appearance in the past, he had become dirty and unkempt, with straggly hair, stained clothes, and patches of silver stubble on his chin. —Minette WaltersFox Evil2002
  2. She was very much the craftswoman, all her work meticulous, slow, perfect. —Simon WinchesterThe Professor and the Madman1998
  3. In dense, meticulous arguments … Brooten mounts an assault on that view. —Cullen MurphyAtlanticAugust 1993
  4. He described the scene in meticulous detail.

  5. He is meticulous about keeping accurate records.

Recent Examples of meticulous from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'meticulous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

meticulous Has Fearful Roots

It may surprise you to learn that meticulous is derived from the Latin word for "fearful" - meticulosus - and ultimately comes from the Latin noun metus, meaning "fear." Although meticulous currently has no "fearful" meanings, it was originally used as a synonym of frightened and timid. This sense had fallen into disuse by 1700, and in the 19th century meticulous acquired a new sense of "overly and timidly careful" (probably influenced by the French word méticuleux). This in turn led to the current meaning of "painstakingly careful," with no connotations of fear at all. The newest use was controversial among some usage commentators at first, but it has since become by far the most common meaning and is no longer considered an error.

Origin and Etymology of meticulous

earlier, "fearful," borrowed from Latin metīculōsus, metūculōsus "timid, apprehensive," from metū-, stem of metus "fear, dread" (of uncertain origin) + -culōsus (in perīculōsus "involving danger, perilous")
Note: The senses "overscrupulous," then "careful, scrupulous" may depend on French méticuleux, for which these meanings are attested somewhat earlier than in English.

Synonym Discussion of meticulous

careful, meticulous, scrupulous, punctilious mean showing close attention to detail. careful implies attentiveness and cautiousness in avoiding mistakes.
    • a careful worker
meticulous may imply either commendable extreme carefulness or a hampering finicky caution over small points.
    • meticulous scholarship
scrupulous applies to what is proper or fitting or ethical.
    • scrupulous honesty
punctilious implies minute, even excessive attention to fine points.
    • punctilious observance of ritual

METICULOUS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of meticulous for English Language Learners

  • : very careful about doing something in an extremely accurate and exact way

METICULOUS Defined for Kids


adjective me·tic·u·lous \ mə-ˈtik-yə-ləs \

Definition of meticulous for Students

: showing extreme or excessive care in thinking about or dealing with small details
  • a meticulous description

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very hard to disturb or upset

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